Speech Given by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the 62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

September 25, 2007

[Please note that only the original French text issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.]

Heads of State and government,

Ladies and gentlemen,

To all the peoples of the world whom you represent, I bring fraternal greetings from France.


Yours is an immense responsibility, and France has confidence in you.

This is the first time I have come to speak here in the name of France. As you can imagine, this is a solemn and moving moment for me. I cannot help thinking of all those men, before all of us, and all those women who, in one of the most tragic moments for humanity, as the world stood on the brink of barbarity, women and men, finding that prospect intolerable, found the way to counter force, violence and barbarity with justice and peace.

Thus was born the United Nations.

The United Nations, Secretary-General, ladies and gentlemen, is not merely a political and legal construction, it's an awakening of the human conscience against all that threatens to destroy humanity.

I have never believed that the UN could one day extirpate the violence that is in man. But what I do know deep down is that in spite of all its failures, without the UN we would never have been able to put an end to seemingly irresolvable conflicts. Remember the Cambodian genocide, that people martyred by their torturers, the independence of Namibia and of Timor. Look at the Great Lakes region and West Africa. And without the UN the world might have experienced a third world war very probably yet more terrible than the two preceding it.

France is convinced that the UN is the only remedy we have to cure the blindness and folly that sometimes seize mankind.

The message I want to bring you in the name of France is a simple one: in this world where the fate of each of us increasingly depends on that of others, the UN must not be weakened, the UN must be strengthened. Reforming the UN to adapt it to the realities of today's world is for France an absolute priority. We can't delay it.

It's on a global scale that we must consider and resolve the world's problems.

No one on earth can alone protect him- or herself from the consequences of climate warming, the clash of civilizations or the major epidemics.

Against egoism, fanaticism and hatred, it is our duty to renew the appeal to the universal conscience which, for the first time in history, enabled all the world's peoples, all the nations to agree to meet in a common forum to talk to each other, setting aside everything which divides us.

This appeal to the universal conscience is an appeal for peace.

It is an appeal for us to open up to each other.

An appeal for diversity.

An appeal for responsible action.

And it's an appeal for justice.

France has always sought to achieve for mankind and not for itself.

Like all nations, France, in the course of its long history, has made mistakes, and has sometimes been at fault. But the French people have always chosen to be on the side of freedom and democracy.

France is loyal to its friends and the values it shares with them. But loyalty is not the same as submission; loyalty is not a prison. And France wants to use this loyalty to open up to others.

I want to tell the world that France will remain ready and willing to talk to everyone in the world, on every continent.

I also want to say that openness to others doesn't mean abdication of responsibility, that understanding doesn't mean weakness. Weakness and abdication of responsibility don't lead to peace, but to war. France and Europe have in the past suffered the tragic consequences of this for themselves and for the world. When one is weak and submissive, then one prepares oneself to accept war. And we all have a duty to ensure that it never happens again.

There won't be peace in the world if the international community compromises with the right of peoples to self-determination or with human rights.

There won't be peace in the world if the international community is not fiercely determined to fight terrorism.

There won't be peace in the world if the international community isn't united in its resolve to put an end to the wars in the Middle East, in its resolve to put an end to the horror in Darfur, the tragedy of Lebanon and humanitarian tragedy in Somalia.

I want to say, weighing my words, there won't be peace in the world if the international community shows any weakness in the face of nuclear arms proliferation. Iran is entitled to nuclear power for civilian purposes. But if we allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, we would incur an unacceptable risk to stability in the region and in the world. I want to say here, in the name of France, that this crisis will be resolved only by combining firmness with dialogue.

It's with this in mind that France will act.

I want to say here, in the name of France, that it is the international community's duty to confront those who seek power and constantly threaten the extremely fragile balance of peace with its unwavering unity and its determination to uphold the law.

I want to say in the name of France that there won't be peace in the world without respect for diversity, without respect for national identities, without respect - if I may say so - for religions and beliefs, or without respect for cultures.

Commitment to one's faith, to one's identity, to one's language and culture, and the way one lives, thinks and believes is legitimate and profoundly human. To deny it is to fuel humiliation. It would justify nationalism, fanaticism and terrorism.

We won't avert the clash of civilizations by forcing every people to think and believe the same thing. France intends to pursue with all people of goodwill the battle to build the new world order of the twenty-first century. We want a Lebanon able to live as an independent State and we say that France will always stand at Lebanon's side in its determination to be independent.

We want, tomorrow, Israelis and Palestinians to find in themselves the strength to live in peace. Peace is possible. It is possible now and we will devote all our energies to its achievement.

We want the peaceful coexistence of the great religions in order to defeat fundamentalism and fanaticism.

But I want to say seriously that there is too much injustice in the world for the world to be able to hope to live in peace.

The UN's founding fathers knew that the future can be read in the eyes of a battered child, of a hungry child, of a child who sees his parents being humiliated; of a child who since birth has known nothing but war, of a child torn from his home, his land, his family.

Because in that child's desperate eyes there is not only suffering, but also all those wars and all those revolts that will drench the world in blood tomorrow.

Let's look at the world as it is. Look at what we have made of it.

We want the world to become more just, have we wanted this enough?

The answer is no.

Have we done enough to make it just? The answer is no.

When the Berlin Wall fell, we all dreamed that history would cease to be tragic. Let's look at our world as it is in order to make it better. Let's judge our world by the yardstick of justice.

Justice means the Palestinians regaining a country and building a State.

Justice means the Israeli people having the right to live in security.

Justice means the Lebanese people regaining their freedom.

Justice means the Iraqi people, in all their diversity, finding within themselves the path to reconciliation and democracy.

Justice means that when we want to impose environmental rules on a developing country, even though its inhabitants have barely enough to eat, we will help to put them in place.

Justice means not being able to make use of a country's resources without paying a fair price for them.

Let's look at our world as it is. Never before have we created so much wealth and so many opportunities; yet never has our world seen so much financial speculation. Never before has there been a system in which a few major groups have appropriated such huge dividends.

There are in the world, and even in the richest countries, a multitude of men and women who no longer even have the hope of one day escaping their material or mental distress.

So to end, I want to appeal to the conscience of all those with any responsibility for the conduct of world affairs.

Because if we don't do this, the poor and the exploited will one day rise up against the injustice done to them.

What the world needs is a new way of thinking.

It needs a genuine global-scale New Deal.

An ecological and economic New Deal.

In the name of France, I call on all States to unite to found the new world order of the twenty-first century on the basis of the potent idea that mankind's public goods must be made the responsibility of the whole of mankind.

In the name of France, I issue a solemn appeal to the United Nations, in this century scarred by the return of scarcity, to provide itself with the means to ensure everyone has access to all vital resources, to water, energy, food, medicine and knowledge.

I issue a solemn appeal to the United Nations to take on the task of more fairly distributing the profits, the income from raw materials and technology.

I issue a solemn appeal to the United Nations to take on the task of raising moral standards in financial capitalism.

I issue a solemn appeal to the United Nations to do more to tackle the corruption which is undermining countries which are suffering and are too poor.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Things must change; attitudes and behaviour must change. It is our responsibility. It is our responsibility now because tomorrow it will be too late, because otherwise we will see the resurgence of all the threats the post-war world thought it had averted. Let's not treat this risk lightly.

Peoples of the world, together we can build a better world for all mankind.

It is solely up to us, it depends on our ability to be true to the values in whose name we are gathered here today.

As you can see, France thinks we can't delay any longer. France is asking for action, France is encouraging action, France will answer the call to act in pursuit of peace in the world. Thank you.